Jewellery designer, Lisa Price, tells us of how her business pulled her back from the darkest time in her life and how she now uses it to help other people.
5 years ago, Lisa woke from a routine day operation on her ankle, it was just a month after her 39th birthday and little did she know how much her life was about to change. “I knew I would need six weeks off work following the routine ankle operation that would knock me off my feet, I had no idea it would transform my life beyond the imaginable”.
After waiting all day to be discharged she started being sick and felt a sharp pain in her chest. She had a blood clot as a result of the operation that caused her to have a heart attack, which has affected her whole life. To this day she has heart failure along with other health issues caused by the operation such as arthritis in her ankle and the tragic news that she can’t carry a pregnancy and have children. The stress and trauma of the operation resulted in Lisa suffering with depression and anxiety and just to add to the traumatic time she had just been made redundant from a ten-year job in HR as well as her husband Dave who was also made redundant in that same year. However, starting up her own jewellery business was her solace.
Lisa, now 44, from Seaham says she wouldn’t even like to think where she would be today if her jewellery business hadn’t saved her and describes her choice to turn her life around as “sink or swim”.
“Of course even though you’re the subject of actually having something happen it does escalate to everyone around you as well. It’s kind of wrong and selfish to think it’s not impacting anyone else because it is. Dave and I still talk about it. We laugh at childbirth and say it’s a good job I haven’t got to go through that. Even though we would love it. I feel so destroyed that it’s the one thing I can’t give him”.
Lisa says she “didn’t know she was strong” but describes the situation as a “a black dot on the wall that you stare at and realise that dot is your life and you need to crawl out of the blackness”. So, she turned to the internet and social media saying it was her “lifeline” as she couldn’t walk for six weeks. She made friends in Facebook groups for people who had heart problems and when she got a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, Brian, for company she ordered everything she needed for him online. Although she found it upsetting she couldn’t walk him further than the back garden.
At this time of despair Lisa turned to her creative side to feel better. She has always had what she calls a “creative streak”. She made her first necklace when she was 14 and enjoys sewing, painting and decorating. She once made a table out of Liquorice Allsorts and painted a snakes and ladders board on a wooden floor. So, it makes sense that at this time of despair she turned to her creative side to feel better.
“When you’re in the depths of it you think ‘I am really alone’, I guess it’s just wiping all the muck off you and saying ‘right, come on then we are gonna go and do something. I’m going to start my own business’. So, it was like three o’clock in the morning and I got the idea in my head”
So she set up her jewellery business “Stones and Stems”. Lisa used her ‘lifeline’ the internet to order all her gems, beads and all other materials she needed and created her website and social media handles. But, her mental state meant that despite her passion she wasn’t ready for the business side of it so she put her business to the side and got a part time job at a spa.
The job made her content as she was making money but she felt she was ignoring her creative side, so four years after her heart attack she rebranded her business naming it “Lisalu”. She says: ‘The brand initially wasn’t me. It was the wrong name and I thought if I’m actually going to do something like this I need it to be a reflection of myself. You can’t forget who you are.”
Lisa creates a large variety of jewellery using beads, glass blown components, Swarovski crystals, gemstones, silks and leathers. She describes some as a little bit more bohemian and some a bit more bridal depending on what the clients want. Her favourite pieces are custom orders she likes building a relationship with a client and finding out why they want a specific item. The natural gem stones and the fact that they are handmade adds more meaning to her than something that could be found on the high street. Lisa says: “I don’t like things where there’s going to be thousands of the same item produced. If I do something the most that I’ll make is probably five or six the same but even then because they are gemstones no two pieces are going to be the same. They’re all very unique”. Her pieces come at an affordable price ranging from £10-£85. Her products are available online at: www.lisalu.co.uk/sparkle and also at local craft fairs.
Her husband supports her in her business. “Dave is totally supportive of what I do because it found us again. My Jewellery business made me feel like me again”.
She is now helping other people that have been through similar times and using the dark time in her life to help people. She has been on TV and radio with the British Heart Foundation to raise awareness for symptoms for women and does coaching for people who have been through difficulty. She has also found a way to help people through her work based on her own experiences. She uses lobster clasps rather than bull clasps so they are less fiddly for people like her with arthritis. She also uses charged gemstones which are known to help people with anxiety and depression but are usually carried in pockets. She says by putting them into necklaces you don’t have to keep going in to your pocket to check it is there. “I can’t say it is just down to the stones that they feel better but it’s that little bit of guidance and support that can help and I believe that it is almost like a crutch to say “I’ve got you. I know you can do this.” She has also recently been learning about Chakra stones. Learning how to use different areas in the body to heal with gemstones and massage. This can help with confidence and depression among many other things.
Lisa enjoys seeing her pieces being worn by everyone in a variety of places but says: “I like how they are from the North East. I am from the North East, that’s who I am and I think the North East has a lot to offer”.
So, looking to the future, Lisa plans to stay in the North East and wants everyone everywhere to benefit from the jewellery but doesn’t want her business to expand too much as it will lose that personal touch. She is committed to learning more about the benefits of gemstones and to continue her coaching. Lisa is also excited that she can now walk her dog Brian further than the back garden.